Twisted and entertaining, this broad story of revenge is multi-faceted but close to the surface—a bug’s eye view into the...

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THE HAUNTING OF THE COIN

A spirit takes the form of a white spider to alter the destinies of several Japanese villagers in this supernatural thriller set in the wake of World War II.

Following the war’s end, the American soldiers return home, leaving a trail of broken hearts and fatherless children—a setting created with simple prose packed with historical details. A mysterious white spider watches with disgust as American Tom takes advantage of the young Aiko before he leaves the country. Banks describes Tom and Aiko’s affair—and others throughout the story—with the explicitness of a romance novel but the tenderness of an assault. A tryst between another American soldier and an embittered Japanese woman, Tomoko, results in an unwanted daughter named Sarah. To pass the time before she and Sarah can relocate to a military base, Tomoko moves back to her parents’ village where Sarah meets a large cast of characters and becomes assimilated to Japanese culture through a slew of Japanese words and phrases: “Sarah was to learn that the floor was called ‘tatami’ in Japanese, and every home in Japan had them.” Sarah’s cousins persecute her for her mixed race and her mother insists the girl is possessed by the devil—and may not be entirely wrong. Sarah can read minds, communicate with the dead and punish her enemies with increasingly powerful psychic abilities, which she hones with the help of several spirits who sometimes give her conflicting advice. When the white spider enlists Sarah’s help in finding Aiko, who is now pregnant and missing from her village, Sarah learns to use her gifts for purposes greater than revenge. The numerous backstories and subplots are difficult to follow at first, but they all feed into the central conflict: Aiko’s fate, and that of her family and village, rest on the ability of Sarah and the white spider to uncover the truth.

Twisted and entertaining, this broad story of revenge is multi-faceted but close to the surface—a bug’s eye view into the darkness of the human soul.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-1450035422

Page Count: 369

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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